I'd just started eating lunch when the angel fell from the sky. There was a small pop and everybody looked up.

"Damn," Jacko whistled, "is that – "

Except me.

"Holy shit," Ian craned outside. "They got one!"

"'bout damn time."

I just wanted to eat my damn lunch. I was looking forward to dessert.

But then the officer strolled in, barked some orders (at us two I think) and everybody dropped everything and got up running

– because why the Hell not?


"Nothing left, most likely."

Wanted to validate their existences, most likely.

At the jam against the wall. It was clear blue. With a few puffs splattered over the sides. And today there was a thinish streak up there as well, a shade off-grey.

"Get your head out of the clouds, soldier!"

Papercut fading fast. Those dumb bastards, they should've known it wasn't enough cover.

"Yes, sir." I mumbled, climbing up the ladder.

Up on the surface, the others were already long gone. I picked my way around the craters (this field might've been beautiful too, in the spring. Maybe. Even now some weeds were struggling to survive – as if the shots gave them nutrients or something) trying my best to ignore the Officer. For some reason he stuck right by me.

"A real philosophical search."

"What'd you call me?"

He was a real space cadet, this one.

"Sir."

You couldn't hold it much against him.

"Right." Somebody hollered so he went off in that direction; and I stopped still.

It wasn't much. But at least it was better than what was down here.


"Hey – hey."

Jacko was the one that found him.

"Look. Over here!" As I plodded over, he waved. "A real one!"

I'd never seen a wreck before. So I wasn't sure if this counted.

"You idiot, where's the plane?" Big O. arrived on the scene.

There were a few twisted scraps of metal lying around, I guess. I kicked at one near my foot.

"'s just over there."

Their voices receded as Jacko led them off. "Where's the pilot?"

But not me.

I walked closer to the man and stood looking down at him.

He was just lying there. Completely still. Probably he'd broken his back and body (and more besides), and no wonder.

"Lost your wings, buddy."

Could hear the silence swallow the rest, the words, the wind in the reeds (well grass anyway). I turned around. And almost the glares of our dear neighbors on the other side. Wondered if they'd make any attempt (but we hadn't heard much from them lately anyway). Maybe they weren't even there anymore. Typical; they'd vacated the premises and left us with neither warning nor farewell.

"You're far from home." I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye.

No reaction; I didn't feel much inclination to follow but I turned to go.

A small movement.

"What?" I turned back.

His eyes had opened. Unblinking, green. Cracked definitely.

"I can't – "

On me.

" – hear you."

For some stupid reason I dropped to my knees beside him.

"What is it you're saying?"

He struggled; and left off, like it was too much effort.

"Go to sleep," I advised him, "it'll be easier."

Only his eyes moved toward me. But no comprehension. He was taking a break, resting for some monumental effort.

So I just waited patiently. Like the dumbass I am.

Finally he managed it.

"Tell me."

Oh, right. I dredged up the mind, a crust of black sludge.

"Yeah?" Relics of my oldschool days. "What's up?"

"Is this – " but looking at my uniform, I think he could tell.

I shrugged.

"Could – " He took a deep breath, searching for something. "Could you – tell me." his head moved a little.

"Sure."

"What is your – vision?"

The word confused me. "What?"

"I want to know." His eyes met mine."I want to know. That this world. Will be in the hands of – good people."

Heaven ain't close in a place like this. I looked away. Lopsided heart, broken hand. Trust me to elucidate the goals of the Father.

But who can deny a dying man?

"Oh yeah. It'll be great." I told him, settling down. "Moving forward, marching. Forward. Unification, one Empire, one people under God – or something. Realise the full potential of the human race." I leaned my head into my hands. "Brave new world order and all that."

He chose to look upward, rather than at me. Don't blame him.

My talk petered out to nothing. Reclaimed by silence, as usual.

"I – " His voice was low now, almost a whisper. "I had a dream."

"Did you now?"

He stared unmoving up at the sky.

And so did I.

The sun'd caught some cumulos up above us, set them on fire. I leaned back; where one finds greatness. A blaze of glory blood red and blue. And his trace up there had expanded, was transparent, almost gone now.

Was one supposed to close them or something?

"Take heed – " I startled when they came to bear on me. "Take heed of the dream."

"Hey!"

Crashing toward us, and he saved me the trouble.

"'ey – Reinhard!"

"Whaddya doing over there?"

Whisper in the wind.

"Take heed."